Five Years After Citizens United Ruling, Big Money Reigns

January 24, 2015 | | Los Angeles Times |

If you're wondering why issues favored by a majority of Americans such as raising the minimum wage, gun control and net neutrality get scarcely any attention in the halls of Congress, the Citizens United case is the reason.

The Supreme Court's 2010 decision in the infamous campaign finance case marked its fifth anniversary last week. By taking the reins off big-money electoral donations by corporations and labor unions, Citizens United has unmistakably broadened the political influence of the wealthy and powerful.

But the ruling's pernicious effect goes well beyond merely inviting more money into politics. It has opened the way to a debasement of our politics by narrowing the definition of political corruption that can be fought by campaign finance limits. [...]

A new study by the public policy think tank Demos and the public interest group U.S. PIRG calculates that U.S. Senate candidates will have to raise an average $3,300 every day for six years to match the campaign chests of the median 2014 winner. As an unsuccessful challenger for a New York congressional seat told the authors, "You find out very quickly that this is not about who has the best ideas; this is about who has the most money."

As we enter Year Six of the post-Citizens United world, money has the only voice that politicians hear.

Read the full Demos report: The Money Chase: Moving from Big Money Dominance in the 2014 Midterms to a Small Donor Democracy